Today, I’d like to talk a bit about tropes in romance novels. There’s a super handy list put together by Mindy Klasky that lists most of the common tropes used in romance novels. Many romances combined one or more of these tropes as plot devices to bring together (or cause conflict for!) the main characters. Click the link to check out the list, and let me know in the comments what your favorite (and least favorite!) tropes are.
My top 5(ish) favorite tropes are Disguise & Mistaken identities (these are similar enough that I’m lumping them together!), Fairytale, Cyrano, and Enemies to Lovers.
Disguise & Mistaken Identities
• Disguise – one or both lovers pretends to be something s/he isn’t – an expert in the workplace, a member of a family, etc. – but s/he falls in love while in disguise and is forced to continue the ruse.
• Mistaken identity – one of our lovers is assumed to be someone s/he is not, and s/he perpetuates the misunderstanding for reasons best known to him/herself.
One subcategory of these two tropes, which is my absolute favorite romance trope, is the woman disguised as a man. It probably started with my childhood love of the Song of Lioness books by Tamora Pierce, where Alanna disguises herself as “Alan” and trains to become a knight. This trope can be found in all forms of media, inlcuding movies (She’s the Man, ), anime and manga (Ouran High School Host Club, Hana Kimi, ) and Korean dramas (You’re Beautiful, To the Beautiful You, Coffee Prince, Nail Shop Paris… The list goes on!)
Some of my favorite books about women disguised as men are Surprising Lord Jack by Sally MacKenzie, The Switchby Lynsay Sands, Duchess by Night by Eloisa James and How to Tame Your Dukeby Juliana Gray.
Some other favorite disguise and mistaken identity books are How the Duke was Won by Lenora Bell and Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis.
OK, who doesn’t love a good fairy tale retelling? Cinderella retellings also often fall under my other favorite trope, Disguise/Mistaken identities – so, y’know, bonus! Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast seem to be the fairy tales you find the most romances for, but there are some for other (and often less well known) fairy tales as well
Some of my favorite fairytale romances are Uprooted by Naomi Novik, Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey (and basically her entire Elemental Masters series, to be honest, as well as her 500 Kingdoms series), A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James (and her whole Fairy Tale series), Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (the book is SO MUCH BETTER than the movie!!), An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn… The list goes on, so I’ll stop there, haha.
• Cyrano – a lover woos another for a friend, only gradually realizing that s/he is falling in love her/himself.
Cyrano de Bergeracby Edmond Rostand is hands down my favorite play of all time. I was so pumped to see this trope on Mindy’s list, because there are not enough books with this trope. Thing of movies like The Truth About Cats and Dogs and the quite literal modernization Roxanne for examples of this trope.
Hands down the best Cyrano romance novel is Love in the Afternoonby Lisa Kleypas
Enemies to lovers
• Enemies to lovers – our lovers are enemies (business rivals, part of a family feud, law enforcement and criminal, etc.) until they realize the depth of their romance.
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, The Winter King by C.L. Wilson, The Truth About Love and Dukes by Laura Lee Guhrke, and When A Marquess Loves a Woman by Vivienne Lorret.
Some other tropes I love are friends to lovers, neighbors to lovers, best friend’s sibling, opposites attract, small town romances, women in STEM, and anything about spinsters, wallflowers or bluestockings…
So what about you? What are your favorite tropes? And do you have a great book recommendation that fits one of my favorite categories? I’d love to hear about it if you do!!